The associates at Southern Colorado Family Medicine do more than just take care of their patients’ health care needs. They do what they can to take care of their patients’ every need.
SCFM is considered a “safety net” medical clinic, according to Family Practice Clinic Manager Christine Medina, with more than 70% of its patients coming from the lowest socio-economic population in the Pueblo area.
“The clinic, itself, serves a very high-need, low-economy, low-income population,” said Karla Aguero, community health advocate for SCFM. “We’re in a food desert. We do have a high population of Medicaid, Medicare patients.”
In addition to serving its patients’ medical needs, the clinic also screens them for other, everyday needs. Oftentimes, they need assistance with food, transportation, utilities, clothing and medication, Aguero said.
“We have a high population of patients who are in need of food,” she said. “Sometimes they’ll come into the office and say they haven’t eaten for a day or two. They will say, ‘We don’t have gloves, we don’t have coats, we don’t have hats. We’re sleeping in the street, we’re sleeping in our cars – basic necessities that the rest of may take for granted, but they’re people who are in our community.”
The clinic has a food pantry, supplied by staff, that provides for patients in need. Associates also hand out items like winter clothing during the colder months.
“It’s just giving back to the community, and then knowing that those are the patients that we see on a regular basis,” Aguero said. “We have a lot of our patients that come back every week. Sometimes some of them are there more than once a week, so we get to know them. We get to know their families. We share their stories. They’re not just a face. We know what their needs are.”
Those needs extend into the holiday season, when each year SCFM participates in the Adopt-A-Family Christmas event. The clinic, as well as departments throughout St. Mary-Corwin Medical Center and Centura Health, adopt families in need and purchase Christmas gifts for them.
In 2018, Aguero and her fellow community health advocates adopted a family – a young couple with two small children, with one being a special needs baby. The baby needed winter clothing and hygiene products. The parents needed shoes and socks, gloves and hats. And the 3-year-old sister needed winter clothes and a coat.
Oftentimes the family’s Christmas list is filled with needs, not wishes, and the clinic and others who participate in the Adopt-A-Family program do their best to help.
In 2019, St. Mary-Corwin associates had the opportunity to do even more to help families through the program as they were able to pay to wear jeans and their favorite ugly sweater to work, with proceeds helping SCFM purchase Christmas gifts for more families.